The paradox of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.
“Sometimes it’s a little better to travel than to arrive”
Extrinsic motivation describes the characteristic of being motivated by external factors or reasons. Imagine the classic example of a dangling carrot in front of a horse to lure it to walk or pull something. This method of motivating the horse to walk is extrinsic. The horse walks in hopes to reach the carrot and yes the horse is making a conscious choice. When the carrot is never reached what does the horse do then? There’s only two options, keep trying or give up? And perchance the horse reaches the carrot and gets the reward. Hooray! The mighty horse conquered! But now what? The next carrot better be bigger if he is going to go through that again. Sheesh, that was hard work… This is an unsustainable practice over a lifetime.
Intrinsic motivation describes the characteristic of being motivated by internal factors or reasons. This method has no logical or quantifiable objective reason for doing something. The “reward” is in the act of doing. Now let’s imagine the horse chooses to walk just because. Because it’s the right thing to do. Because that’s what a horse does and by golly that horse is going to be a horse! No tricks necessary, let it be a horse. The reward becomes the act of doing. This is also a choice. And this is also completely sustainable for a lifetime and applicable to every facet of life; nutrition, exercise, school, extracurricular activities, relationships, everything.
Both types of motivation have merit and a place in our lives at specific times. But being extrinsically motivated is a recipe for temporary happiness or fulfillment. Chasing a number on the scale, signing up for the next challenge to keep your exercise consistent, joining “classes” to satisfy a social need, rewarding yourself or your children with a treat for a good performance. Constantly looking for a carrot to chase will set you up to reach a point when the carrot can’t be big enough. Trinkets and medallions and participation ribbons are fine for the mantel and fun to reflect upon, but be careful to keep them at that distance.
Instead, challenge yourself to seek fulfillment by just doing. Instead of chasing a number on the scale by your birthday, setting New Year’s resolutions, signing up for a competition as motivation to exercise, or treating your children with ice cream for a good report card. Improve your health because it’s the best thing for you. Learn about proper exercise and nutrition practices to last a lifetime, enjoy ice cream with your kids because it’s ice cream. Enjoy the journey, appreciate the destination and know why you’re doing it. This is the true sustainable way to lifelong health and fitness.
“To live only for some future goal is shallow. It’s the sides of the mountain that sustain life, not the top.” ― Robert M. Pirsig
WOD: Front squat week 4 wave 2 then,
Complete for time